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The General Public

A number of copyright-related myths and urban legends have circulated on the Internet; they are sufficiently widespread that some of the industry trade associations have taken steps to debunk them.1 In the world of digital music, for example, some misconceptions include the claims that the absence of any copyright notice on a Web site. or on a sound file (commonly an MP3 format file) indicates that the recordings or the underlying musical composition have no copyright protection and are freely available for copying; that downloading a copy for purposes of evaluation for 24 hours is not an infringement; that posting sound recordings and other copyrighted material for downloading is legally permissible if the server is located outside the United States because U.S. copyright laws do not apply; that posting content from a CD owned by an individual is not an infringement; that downloading sound recordings is not an infringement, and so on.2 As discussed in Chapter 2, the extent of the unauthorized copying of copyrighted material posted on the Internet and the apparent ignorance of the rules of copyright are particularly compelling in regard to digital music files.3

Other misconceptions concern print, graphics, or other visual content. Some of these are that if the purveyor of the illegal copies is not charging for them or otherwise making a profit, the copying is not an infringement; that anything posted on the Web or on a Usenet news group must be in the public domain by virtue of its presence there; that the First Amendment and the fair use doctrine allow copying of virtually any content so long as it is for personal use in the home, rather than redistri-

1See, for example, <http://www.audiodreams/com/mtvhits/> (stating, "This page is nonprofit and audio files can be downloaded for evaluation purposes only and must be deleted after 24 hours"); <> (indicating "You must delete everything after 24 hours and use it for educational purposes only. All files contained here are only links and are not from our server"); <> (indicating, "This page in no way encourages pirated software. This page is simply here to let you TRY the applications before you decide to buy them. Please delete whatever you download after testing them and let the hard working programmers earn their money"); <> (stating, "MP3's are legal to make yourself and keep to yourself, but illegal to download [sic] publicly and keep them, as they are copyrighted material, that is why you MUST NOT keep an MP3 for more than 24 hours" For an example of a trade association's attempt to debunk some of these myths, see the Software Publishers Association site at <> (the SPA has merged with the Information Industry Association, producing the Software and Information Industry Association, at <>.

2See <>.

3According to a briefer at the committee meeting of July 9, 1998, "We're bringing up a generation of college students who believe that music should be free because music is free to them in the colleges."

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